Jamboard is for Brainstorming

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In previous blog posts, I have shared different ways students have used Jamboard in their classes (blog post). One area we had yet to focus on is with staff actually using Jamboard. More specifically, using it to help brainstorm ideas for planning out curriculum. For the past two weeks, different staff members took it upon themselves to try out Jamboard for the first time. I would like to talk about one group in particular.

Current Events Course

Mr. Bashalany will be teaching a new course at Bedford High School next year called Current Events. Two other teachers, Mr. Woodhead and Mr. Czyzowski, joined Mr. Bashalany in brainstorming how the course could look, types of activities that can be incorporated, as well as how to assess competency in student learning. The three teachers started to brainstorm on the classroom whiteboard. I noticed this when I popped in to see if they had any tech questions and decided to bring in the Jamboard kiosk. I demonstrated how the board works and how content can be added via Jamboard’s web version through their laptops. As I left them with the Jamboard kiosk, a couple appeared a bit skeptical on how meaningful the Jamboard could really be.

Fast forward to the end of the first day, I discovered that the three teachers had added 8 different pages to the Jam with content on it. I was thrilled to see that they took a chance and ran with it. The teachers shared what they accomplished with me and asked to have the Jamboard available for their remaining two days of curriculum work.

There are a couple of items that I would like to note that came about from this one planning situation:

  • There is nothing wrong with planning out ideas on the whiteboard. In fact, for some people this is where great ideas come from – physically writing and sketching out ideas. I don’t want to discourage anyone from using this method. There is an advantage to using a Jamboard, if it makes sense to use. The team of three teachers have the ability to pull up their ideas (and continue to interact with them) after the three days. The information is dynamic and movable. Ideas can constantly be added. This jam (file name for Jamboard files) can also be shared with others, such as their Dean. This approach can beat the “can someone take a picture of the board and upload to Google Drive”. As we know, we cannot edit the ideas in the picture, but on a Jamboard, we could.
  • Teachers appreciated the ability to get up and move around while writing on the Jamboard. Just like students, teachers don’t like to sit down for extended periods of time. Teachers did not have to be ‘stuck’ to sitting at a desk looking over a laptop to add content.
  • A staff member who does not work at the high school asked to see a Jamboard in action while teachers were interacting with it so I brought her in to see what this group had been working on. The staff member said something along the lines of “this can be an expensive projector replacement”, which lead to a really great conversation (we are very fortunate that we received a grant in getting two Jamboards). One of the teachers indicated that in all honesty, he felt like the three of them were not glued to their devices while they were talking amongst themselves, like they would have been if they were typing in a Google Doc. He felt like the Jamboard helped facilitate great conversation amongst themselves. He liked how one person was writing down ideas on the Jamboard while the other two were sharing ideas out. It was a great collaborative approach.

Maybe there was success and appreciation for the collaborative approach because the technology was new to them. However, I feel as though we have had many success stories with collaboration while using Jamboard throughout the year. If done thoughtfully, Jamboard can be used to help students truly collaborate, brainstorm and spark ideas.

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This has me thinking, when we ask students to collaborate with one another, I wonder how much true collaboration happens as opposed to ‘conquer and divide’ collaboration…meaning, you take care of slide 1, I will find stuff for slide 2, you find stuff for slide 3 and then we will turn in the assignment. I don’t think it is the students fault nor the teachers. In fact, I wonder, do we model and teach students how to effectively brainstorm and share ideas out, or do we assume that they know how to do this? When staff say, “get into your groups and for the next 20 minutes, accomplish…” do students feel comfortable sharing out their own ideas? Are they willing to talk things out in detail? Do we give students enough time to thoughtfully plan out? All these questions come to mind.

There have been many instances where we have asked students to come up with ideas prior to speaking with their group. Once students have their ideas, we have then asked them to add sticky notes to a Jam for the whole group to see. We follow this by asking students to close their chromebooks and have a facilitated discussion with the use of the Jamboard kiosk. Teachers have commented about how deep and thoughtful conversations have come out as a result of everyone listening, brainstorming, and categorizing ideas. It’s all about figuring things out prior to diving up into sub groups to completing the assigned task.

Below are more pictures from collaborative brainstorming activities that other staff members participated in over the past two weeks.

This experience is just another reminder of how proud I am of the staff that I work with. Willing to take a risk, learn something new, with the potential idea of trying out the ‘new thing’ in the classroom. If you would like to know how you can use Jamboard, you know where to find me.

And that is my Spiel…

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